37 S. Geneva Street was platted in 1842 by James T. Gifford, as part of the original town plat of Elgin. At this site in 1849, a cobblestone structure was erected as the Baptist Church. It is the site of the first school and chapel in Elgin. The building later became the Geneva Street School. This building was eventually moved to whereabouts unknown, and a new two-story brick school house was to be erected in 1891. The new school house contained eight rooms at a cost of $23,341 and officially opened on November 17, 1891. 

The Marckhoff Brothers were listed as the masons, who also were the mason for the Ludlow Shoe Factory, as well as the Northern Illinois Insane Hospital.  

Interestingly, there little recognition of the school's namesake, other than an assumption that it was named after Benjamin Franklin on the 100th anniversary of his death (1790). Among its many graduates include Madeline (Sadler) Waggoner, a novelist and historian; Walter Sadler, former Mayor of Ann Arbor, MI (1937-1941); and James Waggoner, an aerospace scientist noted for medical research for the Gemini Apollo projects.

Franklin School was a grade school, high school, and teacher training center before being sold to be a Community Crisis Center. When the Community Crisis Center moved into Franklin School in November of 1987, the exterior needed a fair amount of work and restoration.  By 1990, the Center had applied to be a part of the Elgin Historic Plaque Program to help celebrate the 100th year of the Franklin School. 


37 S. Geneva Street is a two-story brick structure designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style with Georgian elements. Exceedingly indicative of the Richardsonian Romanesque style is the base of the building, where the square, ashlar style stone makes up the foundation and moves up to meet the masonry material seen on the rest of the elevations. Rounded-arch windows seen in the gables, made up of brick, are also common to the style.

Typical symmetry, strict in original Georgians is often lessened, but still existing, in Georgian Revivals, and is seen here.  The palladian dormer above the original front entrance, with the detailed entryway including columns, pedimented dormers, the decorative chimneys visually interpreting roof balustrades, as well as the dentils are additionally Georgian Revival elements.  

In May of 1983, the Franklin School was included in the National Register of Historic Places.


Sources: 1990 Heritage Plaque Application; Audio: TextAloud